Monday, 17 September 2018

Puzzle Pieces

Crafty Girl

When my good friend Ann saw this apron I made for the Studio Quilters' challenge last year, she asked me to make her one. Last week she reminded me that I hadn't done it yet! So I thought I had better set to it.
As you can see, mine is sewing themed with a tab to clip my scissor 'Zinger' to and a detachable pin cushion to stop me stabbing myself in an awkward place!

Now Ann is a card maker not a quilter, and very good at it too. But I struggled to think of a suitable theme for the appliqué. Then it came to me that she is also a keen puzzle piecer - and that was it!
Just the thing for the deep front pocket.

And her initial for the top pocket. 

The method was another 'make it up as you go along pattern'! Fortunately I had kept the diagram from last time - basically just measurements plotted onto a grid which I scaled up to mark on the fabric. 

The whole thing was cut as a single piece (with a lining behind). I sewed right around it, turned it right side out and top stitched the edge to make it flat.

Then I crossed it over at the back and joined it at the shoulders with binding to cover the join. 

I am looking forward to giving it to her, but I've told her she mustn't get GLITTER on it!!!!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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Friday, 7 September 2018

What's Afoot!

Sliding into Motion!

So, I decided it was high time I got to grips with free motion quilting on my domestic machine(s), having shied away from it for far too long. My last real attempt, at the Kathleen Laurel Sage workshop the year before last, was such a miserable failure, it left me depressed for a week!!

 'If I can do it on the long arm, surely I can do it on the Bernina',  I thought.
I've got all the equipment; The Queen Size Supreme Slider, the quilting hoop, the No.72 Bernina ruler foot, stencils, markers, Machingers, and the Westalee rulers.

Today I really went for it, starting with a traditional feathered wreath:

Then I did a bit of stippling (my bête noire).

I doodled on with some loops and flowers, wishbones and feathered curled ribbons...
 A little bit of ruler work and micro pebbling. 
(I had a little go with my new Westalee foot on the Brother machine, when I got it back last week. I have to say I was not impressed. I have the thicker long arm rulers and they don't work very well with a low shank machine). However, the new Bernina foot (No72) was excellent. It was expensive, but very well engineered by comparison.

I tried some ribbon candy (difficult that one) and some free form 'bump bump' feathers. Then I finished off with some circles.

Of course, I am so lucky to have my long arm machine which I use for the majority of my quilting. 
But I am pleased with my results today - I think I've cracked it!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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Saturday, 1 September 2018

Little Brother is Home!

Bunnies in a Bind!

Although I am by no means a hand stitcher, I have to say I quite enjoy finishing the binding on a quilt. Not that I'd want to do many at 28 feet like this one! Although it seems a daunting task to begin with, once you're in the rhythm it is quite relaxing as you end up wrapped in the quilt. And how satisfying once you're on the home straight to that final stitch of the whole project. 

Here's the quilt at full stretch filling my whole frame. 

I used my preferred binding method, with a 2 inch strip pressed through this little tape maker. In contrast to my very expensive machine, it is probably the least expensive tool I've ever bought (50p at a boot sale about 20 years ago). 

I've used it on every quilt I've made.

My new 'Glide' foot did just that! It works perfectly for an edge to edge design, (hearts and flowers in this case to complement the fabric). Not that there were any bulky seams, as I had swirled them all! But it was helpful to work with a transparent foot so you can see where you're going. 

It has been a fun project and I hope Jane likes her Bunny Quilt. 

Before I got started on this though, I had a great practise session with my new micro handles and finished my own version of the Sew a Row. I am itching to share pictures of it, but I have to wait a while still. Suffice to say I have 'quilted it to death' and I am very pleased with it! Here is a little teaser picture of the back....

There has also been some progress with my scrappy 'Project G'. The other night (when I was too exhausted to do anything other than some 'mindless piecing') I churned out a few more of these little 9 patches.

It is getting quite colourful. At some point I need to look at the design again and work out how many I need!

And today I got my Brother machine back (after some chasing!) Let's hope he's all better. 
I want to try out my new ruler foot. 

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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Friday, 24 August 2018

Doctor on Call!

Upgrade and Service


At long last Auntie has had her long overdue service. Alan (the engineer who installed her 5 years ago) said he had tried to retire, but keeps getting called upon to service Handiquilter machines in the UK. 

I was very glad he was still available, because he clearly knows what he's doing and doesn't mind climbing up in my loft!

The skipping stitches problem had been increasing and clearly she needed some attention and TLC. Alan stripped her right down, cleaned and oiled her and reset the timing. Now she's purring like a kitten again!

Then he fitted the new interchangeable foot assembly so I can use my new attachments; an open toe foot for detailed work and the transparent 'Glide' foot for edge to edge designs. And finally he installed these new 'Micro Handles' for greater control for 'pebbling' etc. I will need to experiment with the best position to set them in and I might be on the look out for a high stool to perch on while I'm doing close work. I am excited to begin practising, I really feel I want to up my game!

Meanwhile, I have managed to complete the Sew a Row quilt, but I can only give a sneak preview at this stage. Here are the houses I did for the first row. I am pleased with the final result and can't wait to see how my other rows have been used. 

Now that Auntie is back on form I can get on and finish quilting my own version of the Sew a Row. Then it's the big Bunny Quilt!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Getting a Handle on Things

And Finding My Feet!

Another fun day out at the Festival of Quilts yesterday. We made good time on the journey up in our luxury coach - thanks again to Ann K for organising it. 

My first call was to find the quilt made by Lynda Jackson (Handiquilter educator) before I met up with her on their stand. I had seen pictures online so I knew what to look for, but it wasn't easy to find tucked away up the far end. 
But it was worth the search - a truly magnificent dragon on a black background filled with intricate quilting, which you need to see up close to appreciate. I love dragons and she had actually painted this on herself. It earned her a well deserved 'Highly Commended' from the judges.

I had pre-ordered several new accessories for my Handiquilter machine which I then went over to claim. The great big handles in the picture above are called 'Micro Handles', which seems a bit perverse. They fit lower down the front of the machine, nearer to the needle, to give greater control when doing delicate, smaller (micro) work. This is something I want work on.

I also bought a conversion kit to allow me to switch feet, now that there is a range of new ones available. So in addition to the standard hopping foot I have an open toe foot (for the micro work) and a 'Glide' foot which should make edge to edge quilting and quilting around appliqué smoother. 

I am all set now for Alan to come and service Auntie, the week after next.

And how about this for a pair of scissors! They are specially for cutting wadding - I do a lot of that! (A Christmas present from my dear brother - I wonder if I can wait 'til then!)

As if that lot didn't cost me a small fortune, I bought the other two feet in the picture above as well! These are 'ruler' feet to use on my Bernina and Brother machines, so I can learn to use my long arm rulers on those too. 

But Hey! I didn't buy ANY fabric!!!!!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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Friday, 10 August 2018


Deep Purple!

What? Where?
No that's just what I was blaring out last night while I was piecing together the checkerboard for the border of the Sew a Row quilt for  Connecting Threads. I have been itching to get on with this project, it has been so interesting to see the different ideas everyone has come up with as the bags have been passed around. I set all my rows in place yesterday, with just a little tweaking here and there to make them fit. I can't show a picture yet. 

I used 'Jan Logic' (I'll explain that one day) to decide on the order to place the rows. However, this had the unintended effect of having too much blue at one end. So my plan is to equalise the colour balance with the sashings and border. 

Make sense? No, never mind! 

I am happy in my own little world making these four patches, spinning seams and joining checkerboard strips. I still can't decide whether or not to make a pieced backing.

That will keep me occupied until Festival of Quilts tomorrow! Yay!! Must try to get an early night.

Meanwhile, I am still teetering on the brink of that elusive Laura Ashley project.

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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Monday, 6 August 2018

In the Pipeline

Reconstructive Surgery

It's not like I've not got anything better to do (or tons of NEW fabric to play with), but something possessed me to finish 'reworking' a ten year old + cushion this weekend. It was one of my very early attempts, featuring some very dodgy curved binding and some free-motion  stippling, which wasn't quite as bad as I thought when I looked at it again. It is so old I don't even have a 'before' photo, but I do use it to take out to workshops. 

 As I had already dismantled it few weeks ago, I thought I would take the opportunity to practise free-motion on the Bernina before I put it back together. After much unpicking of the original quilting, whilst swatting up on quilting videos, I got my 'machingers' on and practised hooked swirls on a scrap wadding sandwich. This is so much easier on the long arm, but it really is just what you are used to. I had to learn to use that machine, just the same, and I'm determined to get better on a domestic machine. 
A bit wobbly, I know, but I got the motion fixed in my brain and filled the two halves of the cushion back with the same design. (I had already done some echoing with the walking foot and some feathers around the heart on the front). It was harder though, because I couldn't see where I was going so well with matching thread and the puckers from the original quilting were rather confusing.
But of course that all worked in my favour and all you can see is texture! This morning I reused the original binding as a piping - a bit tight and awkward around the somewhat over scalloped edges, but I got it all back together. Not my best piece of work maybe; I realise now it never was square! But it is a usable cushion and a reminder that we can always learn and improve. 

I also had a light bulb moment while  I was trying to get in a comfortable position for the quilting. I have been struggling with the height of my chair ever since I installed my new Ikea cabinets as the base for my table. I suddenly remembered I had the pieces of a very sturdy desk that the previous owners had left in my loft when I moved in. I hauled it in from the shed and it makes a perfect platform. Now I have gained 2 inches!
Happy Bunny!!!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

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